Considering the risk involved, worker needs to act quickly.

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Q: My manager has recently started eating nuts at her desk, which is located right next to mine. Unfortunately, I have a serious nut allergy, so any contact with them could produce a life-threatening reaction. Even foods which contain tiny pieces of nuts can be hazardous.

I tried to discuss this with my boss, but she refused to believe me and insisted that the allergy is all in my head. When I explained how hazardous this situation could be, she became very defensive and said I was overreacting. How can I get her to take this seriously?

A: Your manager must either be a narcissist or an idiot. Given all the news stories about nut allergies, it’s hard to believe that she has never heard of this problem. But even if she hasn’t, her callous disregard for your health is absolutely appalling.

Considering the risk involved, you will need to act quickly. The obvious first step is to request a letter from your doctor which confirms the allergy, describes the dangers of exposure, and outlines the precautions you must take. Next, you must deliver this note to your boss in a calm, non-confrontational manner.

For example: “I know it may seem odd that simply having nuts nearby could be life-threatening. However, my physician has written a letter explaining the risks. I’ve lived with this condition for a long time, and it’s really pretty scary. So even though I hate to inconvenience anyone, my doctor insists that I must avoid being around nuts.”

With any luck, medical evidence will convince your self-centered manager to become more cooperative. But if not, then you need to find an influential ally in management or human resources who can resolve this issue. Without disparaging your boss, simply describe the problem and ask for some help.

Anyone having a severe food allergy should consider providing management with documentation from a physician. Otherwise, inadvertent exposure could easily turn a holiday party or birthday celebration into a catastrophic medical emergency.